The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Three survivors of demon attacks spend their younger years learning to fight the corelings in their own ways. Rojer becomes a Jongleur, a wandering minstrel whose fiddle playing can ward off the demon's attack. Leesha becomes a healer and herb gatherer. And Arlen walks the path of a Messenger. At least at first...
Wow. I have to admit I wasn't expecting a whole lot with this book. Fantasy in a pseudo-European setting? Yawn city. Imagine my delight when the book proved to be a breath of fresh air in the stagnating fantasy genre. Demons rising from the core of the planet every night, killing anyone who isn't behind protective wards? Great stuff.
The Warded Man follows the lives of three young characters, switching viewpoints quite often. All three are well drawn. Arlen's anger at his mother's death and his father's cowardice are believably done, as are his later obsessions. Leesha's fear of opening up to people because of the way her mother treated her and Rojer's insecurities about his missing fingers are likewise well done.
While most of the towns depicted were standard fantasy pseudo-Europe, I did enjoy Krasia, Brett's version of the Middle East. The Krasian's attitudes toward fighting the corelings was a nice contrast to everyone else's.
Things really took off in the last third of the book. The Warded Man of the title is a very interesting character, so much more three dimensional than most fantasy heroes. Tattooed, angry, and eating demon flesh. The way the three main characters came together was well done and not contrived.
If you are looking for fantasy with a different flavor, give this a shot.
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